Chloé Zhao’s film Nomadland, starring Frances McDormand, has received universally positive critical reception. The film won the coveted Golden Lion award at the recently concluded Venice Film Festival. Zhao, who is directing Eternals for Marvel Studios, has also penned the script.
The story follows Fern (McDormand) who becomes a modern-day nomad after the economic collapse of a company town in rural Nevada.
The official synopsis reads, “Following the economic collapse of a company town in rural Nevada, Fern (Frances McDormand) packs her van and sets off on the road exploring a life outside of conventional society as a modern-day nomad. The third feature film from director Chloé Zhao, Nomadland features real nomads Linda May, Swankie and Bob Wells as Fern’s mentors and comrades in her exploration through the vast landscape of the American West.”
On Rotten Tomatoes, Nomadland has a perfect 100 per cent score. The critical consensus reads, “A poetic character study on the forgotten and downtrodden, Nomadland beautifully captures the restlessness left in the wake of the Great Recession.”
Los Angeles Times’ Justin Chang wrote in his review, “…It’s a refinement for its star, who slips into this role in a way I don’t think I’ve ever seen her do onscreen. That’s not to say McDormand vanishes, exactly; actors with as distinctive and commanding a presence as hers rarely do. But without suppressing her natural instincts as a performer — including a gift for spitfire comedy that occasionally rears its head — she whispers rather than declaims and illuminates more from within than without. It’s one of her greatest performances.”
The Hollywood Reporter’s David Rooney mentioned, “Like Zhao’s earlier work, Nomadland is an unassuming film, its aptly meandering, unhurried non-narrative layering impressions rather than building a story with the standard markers. But the cumulative effect of its many quiet, seemingly inconsequential encounters and moments of solitary contemplation is a unique portrait of outsider existence.”
Uproxx’s Mike Ryan praised the lead star’s act and wrote, “There’s something very solitary about Frances McDormand’s performance, even though there are plenty of other people in the movie. Fern meets people and sometimes we see them again. Sometimes we don’t. That’s just the way it goes with this particular lifestyle. But even the people she gets closest to don’t seem particularly permanent. Later in the film we learn more of her motivations and each one is heartbreaking. Why she feels she needs to keep moving, never letting anyone get too close. It’s a stunning performance from McDormand, so much so that it’s difficult to not want to declare something hyperbolic like this is her best performance. But then I remember I feel like that after a lot of Francis McDormand movies.”
Nomadland releases in the US on December 4, 2020.
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